PARTICIPANTS OF THE MIDWEST ANGLICAN
CHICAGO, September 23, 2007 – More than 2,000 individuals gathered on the campus of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., today to affirm their unity of faith and belief in Christ, as part the Midwest Anglican Awakening, and to hear a sermon from The Most Rev. Dr. Peter Akinola, Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, who traveled from Africa for the service.
“Two thousand years ago Jesus prayed that ‘they all would be one, as we are one,’” Archbishop Akinola began. “Where is that unity? Has God not answered the prayer of His Son?”
Archbishop Akinola indicated that Christians today don’t have the unity they desire because they have not been transformed by the power of the Gospel. “You cannot give what you do not have,” Archbishop Akinola quoted an African saying. “We can’t have unity with one another unless we have unity with God.”
Archbishop Akinola reiterated that there is no other path to true Christian unity, other than through Christ. He taught the congregation the acronym TINA – “There is no alternative!”
The Midwest Anglican Awakening included 20 participating congregations from a variety of ethnic and denominational backgrounds throughout the Midwest. The organizing committee was chaired by the Rev. William Beasley.
“I was delighted by the spirit of unity displayed in the service today, and I believe we are all more united in purpose than ever, to accomplish the mission God has for us both in sharing the Gospel of Christ and in serving physical needs around the world today,” Father Beasley said.
The service began in the traditional Anglican manner, with readings from the Scriptures preceding Archbishop Akinola’s sermon. Following the communion service, a time of thanksgiving and celebration incorporated hymns and praise choruses, as well as an African worship song led by Rev. and Mrs. Olugbenga Akinbola of Mount Zion Anglican Church in Chicago. They also encouraged worshippers to participate in a second offering – a Thanks Offering – typical to African worship.
Rev. Stewart E. Ruch, III, rector of the Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, summarized his take-away from Archbishop Akinola’s message. “Why is there disunity?” he asked. “Archbishop Akinola reminded us of Christ’s call to obedience: ‘If you love me, you will obey me.’ If we do not have unity, it is because we do not obey Christ fully.”
Chief Jimmy G. Delano, a native Nigerian now living in the Chicago area and an international businessman instrumental in facilitating African participation in today’s service, said it was important for everyone to understand that Archbishop Akinola was addressing Christians everywhere, not just Anglicans or even Americans. He also was including himself along with all denominational and ethnic believers in his reminder of the importance of transformation in the process of unity.
Before the benediction, Archbishop Akinola strayed from the program to lead an extended time of prayer for healing, teaching the congregation an African prayer song imploring “Let the Spirit of the Lord come down on us.”
“I believe we felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in a powerful way today,” Father Beasley said. “We all were encouraged and empowered to unite together in mission and purpose to reach and serve the global Body of Christ.”
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NOTE TO EDITORS: Audio from Archbishop Akinola’s sermon is available for download from an ftp site. Please contact Kristin Cole at (615) 289-6701 or Melany Ethridge at (214) 912-8934 for download information or to request more information of follow-up interviews.
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